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New Research Reveals Sri Lanka’s Debts to China Are Much Higher Than Previously Reported

Share of Sri Lanka's outstanding government external debt listed by creditors. Source: author calculations based on External Resources Department and CBSL data.

New data reveals Sri Lankan borrowers owe China’s main policy banks significantly more money than had been previously reported, an important revelation as the embattled South Asian country lobbies its creditors for debt relief.

Chinese loans to Sri Lanka totaled $7.4 billion at the end of last year, accounting for just under 20% of the country’s total external debt, according to a new report by a pair of Sri Lankan scholars, Imesh Moramudali and Thilina Panduwawala, published on Wednesday by the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Johns Hopkins University.

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